BPO, office sectors to benefit from lifting of moratorium on new ecozones

The moratorium on new ecozones in the capital was mandated by Administrative Order No. 18 issued in June 2019 to accelerate rural development by pushing BPOs to set up offices in PEZA-accredited buildings in the countryside.

Industry sources said that if PEZA accreditation in Metro Manila resumes, this would capture the expected BPO rebound when the global economy recovers after COVID-19. 

“The countryside cannot prosper if Metro Manila’s economic activity is fully vibrant. If Metro Manila’s economy is at the optimum level, only then can the countryside economy grow faster, too,” one industry source said. 

PEZA accredited buildings in Metro Manila are already at full capacity and some of the newer buildings have no PEZA accreditation, sources also said. 

Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) said despite challenges posed by COVID-19, the Philippine office demand will continue to grow driven by IT-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) firms.

At the end of 2021, live requirements are likely to be concluded within the first half of the year totalling 224,000 square meters (sqm).

“Omicron has affected only office expansion timelines but not the business confidence of IT-BPMs and other firms in the country,” said Mikko Barranda, LPC director for commercial leasing. 

With the easing of quarantine restrictions and more mobility, Barranda expects these transactions to speed up now that key decision makers based outside the Philippines can travel more freely in the country. 

In all, LPC said the Philippines remains a highly attractive destination for firms in the West now on the road to recovery.

While businesses still face pandemic risks such as surges from new COVID variants, they seem to have learned to live with COVID and now have contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted operations. 

LPC continues to receive inquiries from firms in the West, many of them captives from industries ranging from healthcare to technology to financial services and directly doing business in the country for the first time, officials said. 

Many companies also prefer to locate to provincial hubs such as Bohol and Dumaguete. In the residential sector, LPC director for Research and Consultancy Roy Golez allayed fears of an oversupply in the face of slow “Bolstered by rising capital values in core markets, we maintain our outlook that 2022 will be an even better year than 2021 which saw office demand rise by 40 percent to 540k sqm.,” said David Leechiu, LPC CEO.